Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Fergus responds... and recent reviews of Larry the Liger

There have been two reviews so far for Larry the Liger - The New Home and both are very much appreciated.  They are both great reviews.  One is a 5 star and, one, a 3 star.  Some of the points raised in the 3 star review are responded to below by Fergus to explain for others who may have wondered the same things :)

"Peggy A writes: 'This story is cute.  It is about a Liger (a hybrid mix between a tiger and a lion) that is trying to fit in.  The underlying message is good and the cover illustration is nice too.  The story was translated into English, and it needs some minor editorial corrections as well as some corrections for verb tenses.  I would expect a children's book to have illustrations so I've deducted one star from the rating.'

I am glad you enjoyed the story.  It was actually written in English Language by Rachael and myself.  I take your point about illustrations but we were keen to get it on sale quickly.  Illustrations can always be added later.

There are nine further ebooks in the Series.  We aim to get children writing stories, not necessarily about Ligers.  Numeracy and Literacy are still the basics of a sound education.

Children all over the world are learning English as a second language and we just hope and pray the stories will help them develop their English Language skills.

When William Blake wrote The Tiger I doubt whether any mad Maharaja had conceived a Liger or Hilaire Belloc had conceived Ponto in his poem Jim.

Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night

Jim
Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion.

Fergus"

The following review is from Wee:
"5.0 out of 5 stars A great read that children will enjoy 11 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition

I downloaded this free book after it was recommended to me by a friend to read when I next visit my niece. The book is an enjoyable read regardless of your age. The writer has created a phrase regarding the liger not being a lion or a tiger, cheetah or a panther which stays jn your mind long after you have finished reading the book. A great read that children wills enjoy."
 
Please add your reviews when you get the chance.  They are a pleasure to read and really help potential buyers know if it is the book for them to download for their children. 
 
Many thanks for the huge support with the recent free promotion.  Larry is being read worldwide and I am sure each and every reader will love him as much as I do :)

Rachael  



Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Larry the Liger

It's exciting to finally introduce you all to Larry the Liger: his father was a lion, his mother was a tiger!  This is the new project I am working on with Fergus.  Larry makes his debut in the first story in the Larry the Liger Series called The New Home.  This story is free until the end of today so get it downloaded and spread the word! 

In The New Home, Larry drinks too much of his mother's milk, leaving little for his brothers and sisters, and ends up abandoned outside a zoo where he is fortunate enough to be taken in by a zookeeper.  Larry's adventures begin and we meet some other characters along the way.

I love the story of The New Home and I hope you all do too.  Downloads are going amazingly well and clearly Larry is making his mark in the world.  Feedback has been excellent so far and I look forward to reading lots and lots of reviews ;)

I would have posted this blog a lot sooner however family circumstances have delayed it somewhat.  I don't want you all to miss out though so am doing it now.  Hopefully you'll have a read of this blog post before the free promotion finishes at the end of Tuesday 11th December 2012.  If you don't read this in time then consider buying Larry for a child you love or a friend who has young children.  The whole family can enjoy this story and there will be more to come.

I found a fantastic illustrator called Des Campbell through Peopleperhour.com.  That is where I got my first paid writing job with Fergus so was happy to use it to get myself an illustrator.  If anyone needs an illustrator for any project they are working on then I can highly recommend Des.  He was efficient, both in time and cost, and captured Larry's personality brilliantly. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you all love Larry.  Please leave a review once you have read the story and/or click on the 'like' button on the book page for Larry the Liger on Amazon. 

If you have children and they enjoy the story then ask them to draw Larry or a scene from the story and send it to me via my Facebook page www.facebook.com/rachaelphillipsauthor.  I will publish the best ones on my page and on my blog.

I hope you all have a good week :)

www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AHJEFWS UK
www.amazon.com/dp/B00AHJEFWS US and India
www.amazon.jp/dp/B00AHJEFWS Japan
www.amazon.fr/dp/B00AHJEFWS France
and all other Amazon territories.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Fergus responds... to a reader. Plus recent 5 star reviews..

Fergus' response to a recent communication from an Anastasia fan:

"Hannah from Ohio writes to ask where all the ideas come from and to say how much she enjoyed Anastasia-The Epic, the last story of Series III and why did it stop there?

Well it has not stopped but has taken a different direction as you will see in the first book of Series IV.

I think I am right, Hannah, in saying you are of the Amish faith and speak Pennsylvania Dutch which is really old German!

She asks of Joe and John, and whether they return to live out their days with German speakers in Kansas.  Well you will have to read Series IV.

Hannah also asks about Laszlo and Zoltan and says there was no mention at the end of The Epic.  I am sorry to report they were MIA (Missing in Action).  We are hopeful they will surface once more.

Why did it stop after The Epic?  Well to me Anastasia was very real.  I used to live every moment of it but it was emotionally draining.  What this young girl was achieving was mind blowing.  She stops baby trafficking and lady trafficking and enlists the combined services of the major powers.

You ask about the cyanide capsule.  You know your stuff Hannah.  Yes, Anastasia would have carried a cyanide pill to avoid capture and torture.  However, thankfully she is back for Series IV."

A recent review for Anastasia and the Yellow Riband which is the first story in Series III:
"5 out of 5 stars A role model for teenage girls.  
This review is from: Anastasia and the Yellow Riband (Anastasia Series III) (Kindle Edition)
Anastasia and the Yellow Riband by Rachael Phillips and Fergus Wilson does what every teenager wants ... turns ambitious dreams into reality. Most 15-year-old boys want to be James Bond ... licensed to kill. Every fifteen-year-old girl is full of dreams, and in Anastasia Romanov, despite the problems created by haemophilia, Rachael and Fergus have created a brave, dynamic, confident and effective 15-year-old who takes on the world and wins. In this episode, which opens the third series, she tackles human traffickers. They are no match for our heroine. Well worth a read for young adults looking for a commanding role model."
 
A recent review for Anastasia Series I Omnibus:
 
"5.0 out of 5 stars. A great read for children.
I have just finished reading this series with my niece and we both really enjoyed the whole series. Anastasia along with her friend take their horses and go on lots of different crime busting adventures. Each story Anastasia rides a different horse with its own character and preferences to jumping, galloping etc.
I have now purchased series two and my niece is looking forward to seeing more adventures of Anastasia."
 
A recent review for Anastasia Series II Omnibus
"5 out of 5 stars A series that all girls will love reading.
I really enjoyed reading this series with my niece who has a new found love for horses and a continued love for adventure. This book is fun to read and really has increased my niece's thirst for knowledge where horses are concerned. Looking forward to reading the next series."
 
Excellent reviews and so nice to receive questions from readers about Anastasia.  Please leave a review if you have read any of the stories.  Series IV is coming soon.  The journey continues... 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Some ramblings...

Preparations for the pantomime, Aladdin, are going well and the set is coming along nicely.  I can't wait to see it all up and in place.  My costumes, for the role of Princess Belrubador, are lovely, thanks to the wonderful women helping with wardrobe.  Amazing job!  Julie is doing a fine job directing and the cast are superb so I'm hopeful for a resounding success (at least I hope so because I have sold quite a few tickets!)

It's very special as it's the first panto I've been in.  I have done musicals and a play but never panto.  Rehearsals have impressed me and properly tickled me.  I can't wait to hear the children's responses to it all when they watch from the audience: 'Behind you!' etc.  Ella is very excited about going to watch her mummy in Aladdin.  I just hope she doesn't wonder why another man is flinging me over his arm and kissing me!  I'll try to prepare her before she goes!

It is also a very emotional time as my parents are coming, along with both my sisters, their partners and my older sister's three children.  Having my Dad there is very important for obvious reasons.  I can't help but wonder if it will be the last visit Dad makes to stay with us but I am thankful he is coming as I had also wondered if he ever would again.  My younger sister is driving my parents here, which is great, and they will all stay the night so it's a great opportunity to spend time with them all and have them close. 

I do have one worry about this panto.  I worry I may lose it and get emotional.  'But pantos are funny!' I hear you cry.  Yes, they are, and this one is especially so, but at one point we all sing together and there's a line that is liable to reduce me to tears for the performance my parents are attending.  You see I'll know they are sat watching even if lighting means I can't see them.  It's a very poignant line and it's amazing how songs suddenly hold so much more meaning when life and events takes a turn...   

'Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow...'  I'm sure most of you will recognise the line; it happens to be one of my most favourite Christmas songs.

We will be spending Christmas day at home, just the four of us, and will spend boxing day with family.  This Christmas is very important and I know we will all make sure we all will be together.  We may even hang a shining star up on the highest bough!

Whatever happens I'm going to make the most of every moment and every opportunity to spend time with loved ones over the coming weeks because, hey, you just never know do you?

Rambling over - the weather's coming in thick and fast.  Wind, rain and dark clouds in abundance.  It's going to be a great school run!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Progression and a gift

Hi it's been a while again however I have been very busy writing and rehearsing for pantomime, Aladdin.  It's been great fun and wish I could watch the show myself!  Ella is settling well into school and has lots of friends.  Ridiculous numbers of party invitations so her social life is sorted for the next few weekends!  She also has two boyfriends and another fiance so has achieved quite a lot since September!  She is enjoying it which is the main thing at this stage. 

I have been finding more time to write and finally finished the final story in Series III: Anastasia - The Epic which, at 17,000 words, is a novella really and the longest Anastasia story to date.  I really got into this story as it's her final and biggest mission.  The poor girl needs a rest after this one and she begins to plan her future in her mind.  When her brother asks for her help in one last mission she can't say no, especially not now she knows why he is so desperate to help the innocent victims caught up in the world of the drug cartel.  There is a lot of action and also a lot of insight into the world of people trafficking and the importance of family to the teenage Anastasia who is now questioning her place and purpose in the world.  Being a teenager is hard; there's a desperation to be grown up but a desire to have fun.  Anastasia's going to have some new adventures in Series IV which will take her in a different direction with Anastasia working on achieving her ambitions.  There will no doubt be some crimes and mysteries to solve along the way as she joins forces once again with her friend Charlotte who she hasn't seen since the beginning of Series III.

I have also created a Series III Omnibus which contains all nine stories from Series III.  I have dedicated this eBook to my Dad, Jack.  It means a lot that it is dedicated to him especially because I know he'll enjoy the stories which feature planned military ops and plenty of action for those that enjoy reading about the world of crimes and justice prevailing.  This book will be free from 17th to 21st November as my gift to you all to say thank you for all the support with the books and other things.  Please download and have a read.  It's great to imagine a teenage girl taking on the crime world and it's excellent escapism.  Please leave a review if you like or at least click on the 'like' button on Amazon for the book.  The links for each territory are listed below.

I met with Fergus this week and a lady called Christine from a website company.  She is going to build a website for the Anastasia books.  It's exciting to imagine a website just for Anastasia and hopefully it will help her reach more people around the world.  The website should be ready in the New Year hopefully.  I look forward to bringing you news about that.  It's great to have some positive things to focus on.

Fergus has also asked me to write some more stories about an animal which will be read aloud books for children of all ages.  I am really looking forward to writing these and test stories on Ella have gone down well.  Watching her face as she listens in amazement and then asks me lots of questions about the character is great to see.  More details will be released in the near future.  If any of you have young children who love to draw animals then keep an eye on my blog and facebook page (www.facebook.com/rachaelphillipsauthor) as I will be looking for lots of pictures for the stories.  I may even have a little competition to select winners whose drawings will appear on the covers of the books.

There's lots going on at the moment and plenty to keep me very busy which is great.  It seems Anastasia's journey is continuing and a new chapter is beginning.  We have a lot in common ;)

Happy reading and please spread the word.  Amazon has recently arrived in India and Japan so welcome to new Amazon territories.  I hope you all enjoy the books.  The journey has begun...

Anastasia Series III Omnibus:
www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00A823NJA UK
www.amazon.com/dp/B00A823NJA US and India
www.amazon.de/dp/B00A823NJA Germany
www.amazon.es/dp/B00A823NJA Spain
www,amazon.fr/dp/B00A823NJA France
www.amazon.it/dp/B00A823NJA Italy
www.amazon.jp/dp/B00A823NJA Japan
   

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The ups and downs of the rollercoaster ride called life

Where has the time gone?!  I have been neglecting my blog and social networking because I don't seem to have much time lately.  Admittedly I have hosted a couple of play dates and Amy has activities three mornings of the week but I honestly thought now Ella is at school until 3pm I would have more time to get things done.  Apparently not!

I have been writing less, possibly from burn out from writing so much until now or maybe because I have had too much else on.  I'm not sure.  We've been spending more time together as a family and had a great trip to Chessington World of Adventures Saturday and we all had a great time.  We were very lucky to go for free as when you book online Chessington offers a rainy day guarantee so if it rains for an hour or more on the day of your visit then you get to return for free!  So on my birthday in May we went and it did indeed rain... all day.  Soaked may not describe how wet we were but our rain coats got a good testing that's for sure.  Glad to say it was dry Saturday and no wet weather to dampen things down.

I did email Chessington before we went, to double check the rainy day offer would be honoured at the gates, and they replied: "We are delighted to confirm it did rain all day on your last visit"!  It did make me laugh that they were so delighted that our visit in May was a wash out!  It seems the girls are going to share their parents love of fast, white-knuckle rides - nothing phased them so far.  I love the feeling you get on a fast ride.  The lurching of my stomach as the pirate ship tilts to practically vertical, the rush from the speed as the runaway train launches itself around the tracks and the thrill of sharing adrenaline fuelled hysterics with those around you. 

Sadly though life is like a roller coaster: there are amazing, thrilling and exhilarating moments but... they can't last forever.  Like anything in this world, what goes up must come down and I suppose I am of an age where I will have to face increasing downs as I face losing those dear to me. 

Things with my Dad have progressed and it's been a wake up call that he is indeed ill.  Don't get me wrong-we hadn't forgotten but I guess as he seemed to be coping ok we put it to the backs of our minds.  I also think we were all hoping that somehow it wasn't real.  Recent news that his Mesothelioma has spread to his lymph nodes means a renewed realisation that we are going to lose him.  And once again there is that awful ticking clock hovering over us because we don't know how long he has left. 

Dad has started radiotherapy and hopefully it will ease his pain and prolong his life.  We are going back to visit in half term, in a couple of weeks time, as I am desperate to spend time with my parents; it's hard being miles away from them.  We are renting a lovely cottage on a farm not far from them so hopefully Dad will be up to the trip to visit us there and spend some time in the countryside.  He'll love it.

So I have decided that I am going to spend this weekend completing the final story in Anastasia Series III, which is as yet unnamed.  It will be a good distraction from things I can't control.  This story will be a mixture of action and emotion which seems a fitting reflection of my current emotional state!  Anastasia will be ridding the world of more criminals before she begins new adventures in Anastasia Series IV.  Series IV will bring a change of focus and direction for the young Empress as she pursues new ventures.  I am looking forward to completing Anastasia's adventures in Series III and beginning her new journey in Series IV.

India now has Amazon.com and since they have had access to Amazon I have had increased downloads and borrows.  Great news.  Thank you to everyone who is downloading and reading about Anastasia's adventures.  Please leave a review and share the things you liked about the stories when you get chance. 

Well, it is almost time to collect Ella from school so I need to wake Amy up ready for our long (5 minute!) walk. 

The journey has truly begun... enjoy the ride.



   

Friday, 21 September 2012

The journeys of fact and fiction

Well it's another Friday and another week almost over.  It's Ella's second week at school and my head's in a bit of a spin!It has all gone pretty well; adapting to new routines, coping with the changes and making new friends.  Ella's handled it pretty well too ;)  She has settled really well and made new friends.  Her social life is taking off with playdates arranged which is great news that she is a popular girl already. 

So, Ella's school journey.  We've opted for the packed lunch approach which I am happy about.  Staying for lunch commenced this week and each morning I have lovingly prepared a healthy, balanced lunch box for her.  I think we'll switch to school lunches once it's colder.  I was glad that we opted for packed lunches after the first day when I overheard one child tell her mum she had eaten spaghetti hoops and a slice of bread for her lunch.  Cleverly the mum now writes down her selection from the menu to hand to one of the servers so she gets more balance!  £2.10 per day is steep if all the child is eating is bread and spaghetti hoops!  Although it's often difficult to get facts out of a 4year old!

I managed to embarrass myself slightly when I arrived to collect Ella on Tuesday.  I was hearing all about the Phonics Workshop for the parents of children in her class.  The parents were buzzing about how good it was, etc.  I was not happy that I hadn't been informed about it and proceeded to march into her classroom, straight past one member of staff to ask why no one had told me.  The woman, who I had assumed was her teacher but turned out to the teaching assistant, kindly advised me that a letter was placed in Ella's book bag telling parents all about it.  She proceeded to open the book bag and present me with the letter.  I felt a tad silly and promised I would check said bag daily in future!  I went along to the other class' workshop so all was not lost.  I also wished I had correctly identified her teacher and not marched past her!

I attended the Phonics Workshop at her school yesterday which was very interesting. The teachers explained how the teaching of phonics has changed and we were taught how to sound out the letters correctly. Sounds simple enough however there were some things I was not doing entirely correctly so it was useful.

I did have one issue with the whole phonics thing and that is the use of nonsense words. Children are presented with words that are made up to see how they cope with reading them. I first heard about the use of nonsense words, being used in phonics, through social networking because Michael Rosen campaigned against their use in the classroom. He has always been strongly opposed to phonics as a method of teaching to read and on some levels I agree but that is a whole new blog post so I will save it for another time...

So now Ella is at school am I getting more time to write?  No, to be honest!  When Amy (my 22month old) is asleep for a precious hour and a quarter I end up doing the social networking, marketing and very little writing.  The fact that I am writing this blog is testament to that!  Poor Anastasia is awaiting further instructions from me as she sits suspended in the middle of an adventure.

I am, however managing some time for my writing and am working on 'Anastasia and the Wild Irish Eyes' which is the 8th story in Series III and 28th Anastasia story in total!  In Anastasia Series III, Anastasia is dealing with the dark world of human trafficking, forced marriages and the market for selling babies.  Anastasia has a no nonsense approach hence advising Series III stories are for teens/young adults upwards.  I like the way that with each Series you can follow Anastasia's journey as she grows up from a 9 year old to a now 15 year old and learn about her past and her future along the way. 

So while Ella is enjoying her new school journey I am trying to maintain mine and ensure Anastasia continues hers!  This weekend I promise to get my head down and write, write, write and write some more.

Here's to a fulfilling weekend and some kick ass action from the beautiful Anastasia.  My girls' journeys have begun... 





 

Monday, 10 September 2012

The end of chapter... a new one has begun

I am writing with emotion, excitement and a whole host of other feelings today because my first born is starting school tomorrow.  She is entering the world of primary school education and will spend a lot more of her day at school than at home... with me. 

I think that's one of the strangest thoughts about it all.  I won't be there to teach her right from wrong anymore, I won't be there to cuddle her if she gets upset or hurt, I wont be there to make sure she's ok and being a good girl, and I won't be there to nag her!  I can only hope that I have done a good job so far in encouraging her to be confident, friendly, polite, kind and thoughtful, brave and ready to call for help if she needs it.  Oh and to listen!

Yes, it is probably apparent that I have always been Ella's primary carer from what I've said so far.  I am a stay at home mum of two girls who writes about Anastasia when I can.  I think that's why it's so emotional because things will really change for both of us.  I won't have a job to return to in an office somewhere so my days aren't that different; Ella's absence from home will be very noticeable to both me and little Amy.  Although I am not suggesting that it is any less emotional for working mums so please don't misunderstand me! 

Ella was always fine at preschool, well except for the time when a boy there gouged her head and she still bears the scars (thankfully he is not in her class at school) yet we got through that ok so I'm sure we'll cope but it is still a strange thought because it is no longer optional - she has to be educated.  She will be educated alongside all sorts of other children brought up in all sorts of ways... 

Ella is a sociable child and according to her preschool is 'ready to stand up for herself while being sensitive and kind to others'.  So she takes no messing which is what I truly hope will always be the case.  She is a thoughtful child but has always found children who... how can I put this... I guess I have never seen her laugh, and proper belly laugh, like she does when she is witnessing a naughty child.  It is quite alarming when a friend's child goes on a rampage and she is rolling around the floor laughing like never before.

Jason's response: 'She's going to go for the bad boys I just know it'.  Well let's hope not and there's plenty of time for that(!) but I hope that she doesn't find herself drawn to the entertainment of the unruly child because, let's face it, there's surely going to be one in her class!  Let's hope it's not her!!

If she's like I was as a child then her adrenaline will kick in way too early and she will giggle uncontrollably despite the circumstances.  For example, when I was around 11 years old and in my first year of High School, our PE teacher found a condom on one of the gym mats.  Now I think everyone knew it was one of the sixth formers, because I saw her drop it as she walked through the gym hall.  Everyone knew, it seemed, except said PE teacher, Miss 'C' (we'll call her for privacy reasons).  So as she walked up and down the line of girls in my class (all girls school) I could not stop my giggles and really couldn't to the point of wanting to cry.  I was snorting and shaking like a deranged madwoman.  Quite how I didn't get the blame for it I still do not know!  When she carried the condom between her index finger and thumb at arms length with her head as far back as possible as if it was poisonous, gesturing dramatically and shouting "stand back girls!", then pressing her foot on the pedal of the bin and dropping it in; I almost wet myself with hysteria.

It sounds so silly but that is the problem: it's those silly things that make you react as a child.  I have more control of my emotions (sometimes) now I'm more mature (don't say it!) but I guess I was always waiting for some excitement and would react excessively to the things that I shouldn't.  Is Ella going to be the same?  I guess time will tell but I won't get to witness those moments while she is at school and how I would love to be a fly on the wall.

Some of my memories from primary school are that I was always running around and not looking where I was going and ending up with grazed knees, nose bleeds and a bumped head.  I remember my first school Sport's Day and my hair getting caught in the zip of my dress and I cried and cried.  I remember making my first clay model of an animal and I chose a rhino.  The next day I ran in excitedly to see it dried and ready to take home but I was left devastated to see a squashed, hard mass of dried clay because some child decided to flatten my perfect rhino (well it was to me!) with their fist and no one noticed.  I remember showing the boys my knickers (I was not alone I assure you and have ceased that particular pastime!) and I remember never being kissed in kiss tag.  "I'll let you off" the boys would say!

Jason recalls drawing the biggest egg he could possibly fit onto the page and the teacher saying to him in dismay, "Why have you drawn a giant egg?"  To which he replied, "I thought you said to draw a big egg."  The teacher shook her head and said, "No, I asked you to draw a big 'a'!"  We are learning all the time without realising and, yes, sometimes we hear what we want to!   

I guess when I wrote in my blog 'The Power of Emotion' I was touching upon how we teach our children that emotions are normal and how we try to help our children to understand how to handle them.  I now realise that it is all going to be taken away from me and Ella is beginning her journey to learn about them all on her own during those school hours.  Hopefully she will learn some other knowledge along the way too!

So while we've all been there on our own starting school journeys, it is my first time with my first child, and her first time too, and I know I am not alone with how I'm feeling.  Good luck to all the children starting out on their own journeys.  Listen, learn, laugh and enjoy those precious school years because once you leave the hard work really begins ;)

The journey has begun...

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fergus writes... another guest blog


Sandy writes from England to say how much she cried at the end of Anastasia-Where Eagles Dare.

Sandy was so delighted that Anastasia had closure in the end and knew how much her mother loved her and anticipated Anastasia finding the Album. Sandy points out that it was so important for mothers to have closure on their sons who were killed in Vietnam.

We now all know the full story of Anastasia’s origins and future. Sandy asks what now for Anastasia? Well she has a health issue with her haemophilia which will never go away. It is controlled not cured.

Anastasia is taking a break with her aunt Judith and brother John and is going to Ireland for a well earned rest.

Sandy asks about John Windsor formally based with the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 5th Special Forces Unit and more lately out of Fort Bragg North Carolina.

John Windsor like so many Special Forces found it very difficult to adjust to Civilian Life. The job of a Green Beret is to kill people. That is what they are trained for. It is impossible to turn it on and off like a light switch.

Children of Special Forces worldwide know not to act like other children. Never to surprise their father or jump on the back of this Automated Killer. They acted Automatically.

We deal with the relationship between brother and sister with a large age gap. John has missed having a little sister and the little sister has missed having an older brother.

Sandy asks about Barry Sadler. He was a Staff Sergeant in the Green Berets who wrote and sang “The Ballard of the Green Beret”. Unfortunately Barry Sadler was severely wounded in the Western Highlands Vietnam receiving the Purple Heart. His song Ballard of the Green Beret was top of the Charts for five weeks and in German was recorded under the title Hundret Mann und ein Befehl by Freddy Quinn and later Heidi Bruht. The Song has been adapted by many armies in many countries and adopted.

Barry Sadler was assassinated in Tennessee in 1989.

However, I must point out that this series is about Anastasia, not her brother John Windsor.

Anastasia is deeply concerned about the welfare of children, particularly disabled children, who in 2012 still suffer greatly. There is a thriving International Business in baby trafficking. Every time a childless couple accept a child from an impoverished country they are fuelling the trade.

Let’s face it. People only steal children because there is a market for them!

It is very difficult to say to childless couples, desperate for a baby, don’t accept the baby as the baby will very probably have been kidnapped at the other end of the chain.

Like all teenage girls Anastasia is horse mad and is off to the Fairyhouse Sales outside Dublin to take a look at the horses on offer.

Sandy says she has wept bucket loads of tears over Anastasia but cannot wait for more.

Anastasia is an inspiration to all teenagers suffering from a disability or illness and tries to draw a line between right and wrong. She holds it is always better to negotiate rather than kill but some people are just so bad that the only way is to put the mad dog down.

Sandy asks about Charlotte. Fear not she is still about, and old Mr Saggers and Ilya and Olga and of course Aunt Judith. The Hurley Gurley man Mr Stevens, has unfortunately died but he is never forgotten.
 

Fergus Wilson

 

 

 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

From one blogger to another - RIP Lesley Froud 16/8/73-29/8/2012

I follow one blog on my blog page and that is One in a Million by Lesley Froud (neĆ© Royer).  Inspirational writing written by an amazing individual.  Sadly Lesley lost her fight recently with a very rare illness (hence the name of her blog), Hemophagocytic Syndrome, freeing her soul so she feels no more pain, experiences no further suffering and can experience peace once more.

If the story of Lesley's life was a film you would find yourself laughing out loud, crying copiously and sighing at the injustice of why so many true angels get taken away from us.  She brought so much fun to the lives of those who knew her and I have some great memories from times when we went out together.

Whether this is inappropriate or not I want to tell one story I remember as if it was yesterday.  Lesley and I decided to have a girly night out in Cheltenham and donned our summer dresses (not maxi in those days!) and off we trotted.  We were about 20 years old.  We went into one of the classier joints (or so we thought) and stood at the bar with our drinks.  Mine in those days possibly Bacardi and coke and I wish I could remember Lesley's but I can't...

So we chatted and were about to look for a table when I looked down and to my utter disbelief I saw a man lying on the floor, face up, looking up Lesley's dress!  I nudged her "Lesley, look!"  Instinctively I grabbed my brand new drink and poured the whole lot on his face.  Lesley was so gracious and simply stepped away quietly.

The landlord was sat at the end of the bar and simply said "what will it be ladies?" and replaced our drinks.  The man on the floor had to flee with his tail between his legs.

It makes me laugh because of the landlord's reaction and how calm Lesley was - some women would have gone loopy and caused a huge scene but she was a good judge of situations and there are many I could mention as they are all flooding back.

Lesley was 'cool' if that word is still appropriate.  She was effortlessly cool and liked things she liked.  She wasn't a slave to everything others were yet her individuality and the things she liked made her even cooler.  She was a free spirit and always in a good mood which is why she was so appealing to so many people as a friend.  She had a great artistic flair and talent. 

Lesley was one of my first friends at high school.  When we started Colwell Grammar School for Girls it was quite overwhelming.  She was a petite little thing and always had that elven beauty.  She was quiet and nice (as I was in those days!) and I welcomed a friendly face and genuine person to be friends with. 

Somehow we drifted apart as friends (as you do at high school) but we met up again when we worked at the Bank of England and became friends once more.  That was when the bar incident occurred!  I remember how people were drawn to Lesley and there were always people who wanted to be around her.  She had a true presence.

I just wish we had had more conversations on Facebook but it's typical isn't it.... you never really appreciate something or someone until you lose them.

I know there are many people that will always love Lesley and my heart is warmed that she will never be forgotten.  Her blog must have taken some writing with her illness and yet she always tried to keep everyone updated because she knew they were miles away.  I loved reading her blogs and even if they made me weep at her situation, or laugh at her funnier posts on her blog and Facebook, I was always heartened by the fact that she still had that fight to write it. 

She truly pushed herself to her absolute limit and I have so much respect for Lesley that there are no words to describe it.  She clearly adored her son and her husband and looked beautiful, happy and serene on her wedding day.  Such precious moments...

God bless Lesley and RIP.  Great friend, beautiful wife of Greg and amazing mother of Ripley.  You will be missed and never forgotten.  I look forward to seeing you again one day. xxx          

 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Sharing the joy

I have decided to run another free ebook promotion to mark my first Royalty payment from Amazon!  Yes it's very exciting to receive that email confirming that payment of royalties for my ebooks has been deposited into my bank account. 

It might sound odd but I had forgotten that this would happen at some point.  I have been so busy keeping the girl's amused during the long school holidays and busy trying to keep up with marketing of ebooks, etc and enjoying the whole process of being a self published author that I forgot that I may be accruing royalties from downloads!

So I am going to share the joy and have made Anastasia Series II Omnibus free until end of Tuesday 28th August!

This Omnibus has all 12 short stories from Anastasia Series II where Anastasia is an established detective solving crimes and mysteries on horseback in the beautiful Kent countryside.  With each story we learn more about who she really is while Anastasia and her great friend Charlotte get the job done with a little help from an array of interesting friends and characters.

I loved writing these stories and I really hope you all enjoy reading them.  Reviews are very welcome so please leave a review if you enjoy the stories.  No Kindle needed as you can download a free reading app from the Kindle Store so you can read the stories on your iphone, ipad, pc, etc.

Join Anastasia on her journey...

www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0090P1K5U UK
www.amazon.com/dp/B0090P1K5U USA & India
www.amazon.de/dp/B0090P1K5U Germany
www.amazon.es/dp/B0090P1K5U Spain
www.amazon.fr/dp/B0090P1K5U France
www.amazon.it/dp/B0090P1K5U Italy

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Fergus writes... and I comment!

"To really understand the Journey of Anastasia you really need to read Anastasia – Where Eagles Dare. I will say no more than that at this stage as Rachael has not finished it yet.
Yes I am lucky because I know what is going to happen and you, dear reader, have to wait. Believe me it is worth waiting for. It will be Rachael Phillips' best to date. She gets better with every book.
The type of book Rachael has written has been well thought out and is the first of its kind. It is a dynamic, fast moving, action detective adventure.
It is not Miss Marple or the Famous Five. Miss Marple would be too slow for most children and it has to be fast moving and set in 2012. Anastasia is every Adolescent boy’s dream. She is lightening quick, beautiful, tall, slim with a pony tail.
She is the daughter of every mother who reads the books and all have their number one concern as to Anastasia’s welfare and health. Many say it is breaking their hearts to read of her struggles with Haemophilia.
For horse mad girls it is the next stage forward after the Kent Junior Mounted Police and follows Anastasia into her teenage years.
The surprising element in her followers are adult men most of whom have served in the Forces either conventional or Special Ops. They all say they like the way Rachael writes the books in a way that touches on operational details without giving the detail of a Tiger Tank Manual which is what you always get from male writers. Rachael does not bog you down with details or specifications.
So many have commented on Rachael’s research and detailed knowledge of Special Ops methods. Some ask how she knows specific Special Forces call signs such as Broken Arrow which should only ever be used in the utmost emergency.
How does she know the geography of American Units in the European Theatre? Where did she learn how to shoot like that? Above the head of female hostages to target the male behind with one shot.
Where did she find Laszlo and Zoltan from. Are they based on actual Foreign Legion members? Are they that deadly yet have a heart of Gold? What of Joe and John? They are two men who will never forget the trauma of Cambodia and Vietnam and what of their German American background? Well that is another story.
Anastasia has no tattoo. Why do Special Service Operatives have a tattoo under their armpit? It is very simple. It is their blood group in case they are shot. In the field there is no laboratory to match. You need to have a solution immediately.
Some ex military men say Anastasia is a well oiled and highly tuned Nemesis Operative. They all say they love Series III and are unanimous on one thing. They all say they wish Anastasia was their daughter and are most paternal in their support of her.
Anastasia has reached all ages and I am certain she will make it to the movie screen.
One thing all the men say is just how much they are revolted by the practise of stealing children and forced marriages and what a good job Rachael Phillips is doing to keep the matter in the Public Eye.
Well done Rachael! Fergus Wilson"

I have to comment on this because Fergus has been a great inspiration to me.  What started as a project to write about a girl and her horses began to take shape as my imagination went wild and then so did Fergus' as he began to input more with his knowledge of history and Special Ops.  He knows so many things that I wish I could include it all in the stories and then some!
I think for me I want to express the values of co-writing because together we seem to create stories that are exciting and that we both enjoy hugely!  As do the many readers who express their passion for our Anastasia stories.
While I research and am thorough about the facts I include in the stories the military knowledge is definitely from Fergus and some of the interesting and often strange characters in the stories?  Well let's say Fergus knows and has known many interesting people.  
In honesty Anastasia and her great friend Charlotte in the first stories are both borne from aspects of my character (yes I know! - I am so afraid of the dark!)
The characters and how they develop is borne from how I wrote the stories and the effect it had on Fergus I guess.  Where he has inspired me I like to think that I too have inspired him to make the characters and stories bigger and better with every one.
I never envisaged that Anastasia would grow so much and become so loved, not just by the co-authors, but by her huge following worldwide.
If you don't understand how a character can impact on people's lives then you clearly haven't read the stories.  Written with hard work, passion, knowledge and lots of love... the journey has begun.  Rachael Phillips

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The power of emotion

I have to admit to sometimes assuming that people who read my blog know me but it is clear from the number of readers and the locations of the readers that not everyone reading my blog does know me.  I have had an emotional day from reading a blog post by Jason Manford and decided to share...  It evoked emotions in me that had long been put away and also feelings of anger that there are still so many ignorant people in the world.

It has been an emotional time lately what with the low of finding out my Dad has cancer, the highs of the Olympics, the low of poor Tia Sharp's life being taken away at just twelve years old... the list could go on.  I am not looking for sympathy but the power of emotion particularly hit me this evening when my four year old daughter sat silently as the end credits rolled for Disney's 'Enchanted'. 

I could sense something was wrong and I approached her and asked if she enjoyed the film.  She immediately began to cry, sobbing and huge tears falling from her eyes.  It broke my heart to see her in so much pain and after lots of cuddles she confirmed she was so happy she couldn't stop crying.  While I cuddled her I had glimpses of the future: the pain of 'breaking friends' at school, the hurtful comments that will come from other children and the first time a boy breaks her heart.  Yes I know it's all premature but the power of seeing a child distressed, especially when it is your child, is hard to take.  It's part of being a mum.  I tried to explain why she shed so many tears for something that should have made her smile and explain that it is a normal reaction.

I realised I have always reacted emotionally to hearing of babies and children being neglected, abused and mistreated.  When I was growing up I sobbed to news reports of the starving children in Ethiopia then as a teenager I sobbed to news reports of neglected children in Romania and the images of babies banging their heads on cot bars haunts me to this day.  Other stories of children being taken, abused and murdered affect me so massively I fight to keep them from my mind. 

I am beginning to think it is no coincidence that in my stories Anastasia is fighting to ensure crimes against the most vulnerable in our society are stopped.  If only there was more empathy in the world.

You forget that emotions are something that you have to learn to live with and deal with.  My daughter made me realise that she is learning every day and she is going to have to face some harsh things in her life and learn to cope with her emotional reaction to them.

I sometimes think I am fortunate to be surrounded by like minded people who are not ignorant to the plights of others however I recalled an incident when someone I had faith in let me down and this was brought to mind after reading Jason Manford's blog post about the comments he had about Gary Barlow's decision to perform at the Olympics Closing Ceremony after suffering his own trauma of losing a long awaited child.  I cannot go into more details because it is too personal and potentially detrimental.  

Many people have been affected by the very things they read others have been through and the power of emotions evoked is extraordinary.  When you see a small child react to an innocent film so powerfully and knowing that I can help her understand why we experience these emotions makes me wonder even more why anyone would have bad thoughts about those that are truly suffering.  Clearly they have never been shown how to handle their own, very powerful, emotions. 

Is it any wonder that we live in a society where children are robbing from children, children are acting so violently and shrugging as if it's because society owes them something, children are being treated so awfully because there are those who should never be parents and are raising said children to be just like them.

The power of emotion will endure and I can only hope that most parents have been guided on their emotional journeys from a young age so they can empathise with others when it is most needed and teach their children to 'do unto others...'.  That is how I was raised and it had a profound effect on me and stays with me always.

Please don't make light of the plight of others unless you can be sure you would be able to stand there and accept those jokes and throw away comments if they were about traumas you have had to endure.

We have one life; is it asking too much to offer a hand of support to those that are suffering even if it is only in thought and being thoughtful enough not to trivialise their plight?  Everyone has their own journey and all too often it is marred with trauma and loss.  The power of emotion can consume us but it can also make us better people.

So when I read about the thoughtless comments from people about a man they don't truly know, and how he has dealt with his tragedy, it upset me to the core.  I for one am impressed by a man that can make sure the show goes on because he has committed to it and I have no doubt his wife insisted he do it.  For the fools who feel they can judge - let's pray you never have to experience the true emotion that is the loss of a child.  One of my coping mechanisms in dealing with my Dad's illness is to listen to music and to write how I feel.  So if a singer/songwriter decides he wants to go out and sing then I applaud him and I do it with a standing ovation. 

Never underestimate the power of emotion and never criticise how others deal with it unless you have experienced the pain yourself.  As individuals we are on a constant emotional, learning journey but as parents we are there to guide.  Never underestimate the power of emotion...        

Monday, 13 August 2012

Hooray for the London 2012 Olympics!

Well the London 2012 Olympics ended with a spectacular closing ceremony last night.  Wow!  I was truly amazed by it and there were uplifting, emotional and thought provoking moments.  Huge congratulations to all medal winners across the globe - you did your countries proud as did all those who took part and helped make sure the 2012 Olympics was one to remember.

How fabulous to watch the USA, China and Great Britain top the medal charts with their truly well deserved Gold medal tally.  I am British but I have to say when I watched Great Britain and other countries get their Golds I felt the emotion and could only imagine the pride of their own countries and families.  The USA's David Boudia's diving was exquisite, Usain Bolt romping home for Jamaica so impressive but my highlights have to be watching Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah win their Gold medals and Tom Daley his bronze - each athlete having an amazing story to tell about how far they have come to achieve, despite pitfalls and setbacks along the way.  The work they had to put in is mind blowing and they all prove how resilient they are and indeed how each of us are.  Never doubt your capabilities.

If you have a will to achieve then you will achieve, is my belief.  There will always be those that will doubt you, criticise you and try to put you off your goal but there will also be those who champion you, will you to do well and have every faith in your abilities.  Sadly it is all too easy to listen to the negatives. 

I am sure everyone felt inspired by each and every one of those amazing Olympic competitors. 

I guess what it makes me realise is the importance of support.  All of our Olympic sportsmen and sportswomen said having the crowd behind them made all the difference.  The athletes journeys have been watched and supported by millions.

So I am here, hopeful, that I have the support out there too.  After all if you are reading this then hopefully I have piqued your interest. 

This blog has a big following and I find it amazing and humbling to realise it.  There is something about watching and learning of someone's journey and I appreciate that many are watching those of mine and Anastasia's. 

Our journeys have begun...   

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Fergus responds... to a great review

I write this Blog item after the Publication of M G Wells review of Anastasia Romanov - Private Detective
Anastasia has become very dear to the Co Authors and is most precious to both as well as all her fans and followers.
She has been an outstanding find as has been Rachael Phillips who must take all credit for the cliff hanger style of Adventure writing.
A number of readers have written in the past few days to say they are on EMOTIONAL OVERLOAD over Anastasia’s declining health and appreciate she has a terminal illness but it is so unfair with all the good she does.
I think Rachael Phillips is well aware of the Emotional Overload for so many readers around the world. One reader says she cannot stop crying but begs for more.
Anastasia now has a World Wide following and leads on many fronts. She is the Special Forces Sweetheart around the world. No one else has seemed to catch as much in popularity as our fictional heroine.
The dash to Frankfurt Military hospital using the forbidden Broken Arrow call sign and hanging onto the skids of an Apache Attack helicopter over the Mid Atlantic are memorable in my mind but what I like most is the compassion she has for disadvantaged people be they impoverished or disabled.
The Broken Arrow call sign is one that must be used only in the most urgent of situations. It is very seldom used.
Rachael has researched the Royal Family links to Anastasia extremely well. I find it fascinating.
At the time of writing this blog Rachael is still writing “Where Eagles Dare” and hence I best leave further comments until after publication.
Anastasia has brought attention to the plight of girls forced into marriage in Britain and taken back to the parent’s homeland against their will.
She is a roll model to so many in showing that you only kill when absolutely necessary and she saved the lives of many in None but the Brave.
Earlier she had dealt with instances of people being unkind to the less advantaged. Some would say they had Human Rights. I think it is the Human Rights of the victims we should consider.
Anastasia raises the awareness of Haemophilia throughout the world. I am pleased she leads by example of how anyone with a life threatening illness carries on.
She raises awareness of the theft of new born babies in Spain and this is very important.
She does much good and I am proud to be associated with her and Rachael Phillips.
What a find Rachael Phillips has been!
Some will say this girl Anastasia is a well oiled killer who acts smoothly and has a split personality. I disagree. She does what needs doing but takes no pleasure. She eliminates cleanly, clinically and professionally the Bad Guys.
The World is a better place due to our Heroine.
It is so sad that this young lady who has charmed everyone is dying from Haemophilia.
Fergus Wilson

This review is from: Anastasia Romanov - Private Detective (Anastasia Series III) (Kindle Edition) 
5* Intense YA thriller!
ANASTASIA ROMANOV - PRIVATE DETECTIVE was dramatic, gritty and intense. Anastasia is recruited into a specialized agency, whose goal is to rescue two kidnapped children.

I especially liked the relationship between Anastasia and Laszlo, who is a real hard-ass dude with the heart of a marshmallow. Laszlo teaches Anastasia how to handle firearms and to be rational in the most precarious scenarios, guide Anastasia to overcome her fears and expect the unexpected. He is most certainly an intelligent man and teaches Anastasia the reality of inhumane crimes.

Zoltan is also one of Anastasia's guides. He protects and shows her the in and outs of how to get the job done quickly and quietly. This story had a Mission Impossible feel to it. Anastasia is just a teenager engaged in a rescue mission from which most adults would shrink.

I admire Anastasia. She's bold, yet humble. Brave, yet cautious. There is much action, drama and intrigue in this story. Anastasia faces the Russian Mafia and ultimately manages to save the children.

Anastasia is a strong, heroic young lady, who is courageous during the most unbearable conditions imaginable. I have to admit I was surprised by Anastasia's resilience and strength and look forward to her next action-packed adventure. Horses, helicopters and travelling around the world with Anastasia was a thrilling ride!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Violence in children's literature

I am working on Series III of the Anastasia stories and have found myself thinking a lot about the level of violence in the stories.  Is it appropriate?  Is it sympathetically written?  Is it glamorised?   

The point is in Series III Anastasia is dealing with a crime world that is very real in our world today.  Is it wrong to bring this to the attention of teenagers?  I don't think so.  I think issues of baby napping, child trafficking and forced marriages are things that will affect some of our children and teenagers, and raising awareness can only be a good thing.  This is particularly focussed on in 'Anastasia - None But the Brave' and 'Anastasia - From Here to Eternity'.

There are many actual cases of children going missing, snatched from their families and never seen or heard of again.  There are cases of Asian girls missing, their own mothers having no idea what has happened then we hear how the girl has been shipped out to be married against her will.  These things are happening so frequently but such stories don't always make the news.

A lot of research would be needed to get a true picture.  In the stories Anastasia is using violence against the abusers.  She is working to put an end to the violence against the most vulnerable in our society.  Her gun could be any weapon but it is not intended to glamorise the use of guns in any way.  The people she is violent to are those responsible for awful crimes and there is no doubt about their input.

These stories are not suggesting we need to go out and try to stop these criminals ourselves but to raise awareness that something needs to be done.  The fact that our heroine is the one in the stories to infiltrate these crime worlds is a way to highlight just how these crimes are carried out.

Is the violence unnecessary?  No, I think it is necessary because, let's be honest, in reality these people wouldn't respond to a chat about maybe not committing the crimes anymore.  The stories are fiction but based on real crimes that happen every day.  

I find myself thinking of James Bond and how unrealistic aspects of those stories are and yet he had a huge following.  Why?  Because people want the bad people to be stopped and want good to prevail.  Why shouldn't the hero be a teenage girl rather than a man in a suit? 

If we want to bring about change then we need to highlight issues that may be being overlooked and that is what these books are about.  If the violence is too much then don't let your teenagers read the books because Series III has a large element of violence.

I do think it is unrealistic to shield children from the violence in our world today when many will be mugged for their mobile phones and it is likely that a weapon will be used to do this.  I think it's important to hope that someone will put an end to these crimes but we must all play our part in raising our own children's awareness of such issues not least to ensure they are mindful of their own safety.

It is a harsh world we live in and unrealistic to think we can shield our children from it all.

The stories are not all about violence, which isn't too graphic anyway, but about working together and a young girl's journey to discover who she really is and how she fits in the world.  If the violence worries you then these are not the books for you.  However if you want to read stories with action, adventure and crime then give them a go and make your own minds up.

The journey has begun... 

'Anastasia - None But the Brave' and
'Anastasia - From Here to Eternity' are both available to download now on Amazon


Monday, 6 August 2012

Fergus responds... to another reader question

"Sandy from Austin, Texas is a neighbour of Geraldine and asks whether the Yellow Ribbon is anything to do with the tradition in Texas?

The answer is 'yes'.

Sandy also says that she was so terribly upset when she realised Anastasia would die from her haemophilia and she and her neighbours, including Geraldine, talk of nothing else at their morning coffee sessions.

They think Anastasia is the best heroine ever and has done so much for the cause of stopping arranged/forced marriages, baby napping and child napping.

They say Anastasia faces the end very bravely but she really is just a teenage girl scared of dying and needs the security of Olga and Aunt Judith but most of all she wants closure on her life which means she must know finally about her biological mother.

I think you need to read 'Anastasia - From Here to Eternity' OUT NOW ON AMAZON.

Fergus"

Fergus responds... to another review from a familiar set of initials


"Our great Aunt is at it again.  She should be constructive not destructive with her criticism.  She did not like the first one she read but appears to have read Anastasia and the Three Wise Men in considerable detail and enjoyed it.

Why would a reader who did not like a previous one bother to read another?

When I go into a traditional bookshop I pick up whatever takes my eye and read the first couple of pages and if I like what I read then I purchase.  With an ebook store you can likewise read the first couple of pages which is presumably what our Great Aunt did.  She then downloaded it and read it all.

No doubt she will do the same with the next.

For a reader who says he does not like what she reads she is certainly an avid reader of Anastasia's adventures.

Great Aunt has the bug and cannot keep away in common with all Anastasia's followers.

One of the purposes of my funding new authors is to give them a chance but to also encourage literacy skills within children worldwide.

We have to move with the times!

When I was a high school noodle
and life was rather smug,
My mother owned a poodle.
My father owned a pug.
And every Sunday after three,
A strange procession you would see,
My dear Mama, Papa and me,
The poodle and the pug.

I have no doubt that dear Great Aunt will be reading more Anastasia books which she so obviously enjoys.  No doubt this will spur on those reading this blog to also read the ebooks to see whether they agree with our Great Aunt.

My diet begins tomorrow.  Today I am going to get stuck in.

Fergus"

Friday, 3 August 2012

Fergus responds... to another reader question

"Geraldine of Austin, Texas emails to say that her emotions are in turmoil over this unfortunate teenage girl Anastasia.

Geraldine has been crying herself to sleep every night thinking of Anastasia's decline in health and ultimate end.  She absolutely loves Series III and cannot put the kindle down reading each story repeatedly.

She says that surely this series must be made into a film by Steven Spielberg!  I hope you've told him, Geraldine!

Geraldine says she has long thought there must be descendants of Queen Victoria in the United States.  Well I cannot help you there but I do know there were 1100 descendants listed both dead and alive.

She asks about Prince Leopold.  He died at about age 30 years and his son Charles Edward was born shortly after Leopold's death.  Charles Edward is the Grandfather of the current King of Sweden called King Gustav.

Prince Leopold was a haemophiliac and survived to thirty whereas most haemophiliacs die far younger.  His daughter was Princess Alice and she was a carrier of haemophilia."

Fergus

Thursday, 2 August 2012

For free or not for free - that is the question. The world of independent publishing as I see it.

The free promotions to mark the Olympics went really well and all of your support is greatly appreciated.  I love seeing that people from many different countries are reading this blog and hopefully those same people are amongst those downloading the stories too; just like the many countries are competing in the Olympics.  There have already been some fantastic moments and memorable Gold Medals during this London Olympics 2012 and you can't beat a high like that if you are the one achieving (not that I've ever won a Gold Medal mind you!). 

Like athletes competing in the Olympics there is much more that goes on before an event to prepare and it takes hard work and dedication, often years of hard work and dedication.  Being an independently published author you have to do all the preparation to get the book ready, all the editing, proofreading, formatting, creating covers, etc. and that's the easy bit!  Once your book is on Amazon sadly no fairy godmother with a sparkly dress and twinkling wand appears to make sure everyone knows about the book. 

The marketing of the book takes a lot of time and research too.  Finding the best ways to market your book is not easy and I have mostly used social networking to do this because I don't have a huge, magic pot of money to advertise in any traditional way.  I am still a novice in the world of independent publishing though and I'm sure I will discover may new things and pitfalls along the way.  This is part of the journey.

I have met some amazing, independently published authors through social networking who have helped to spread the word to bring Anastasia to more people and I happily do the same for them.  I am learning though that you can't trust everyone and I have recently realised I have been spreading the word about a couple of fellow authors only to find that they have unfollowed me but still continue to allow me to promote their work for them.  I will be much more careful in the future because time is precious and as a full time mum I simply cannot afford to waste my time on unscrupulous people.  Live and learn.  

I am very passionate about my stories because of the amount of work that goes into the whole process of getting a story on Amazon.  I work with Fergus and together we create the stories.  It can be daunting to receive his input and I have often thought 'where can I possibly take this?!' but once I start to research and write things just start to happen.  It's like magic seeing everything take shape.

The buzz I get from writing the stories, promoting them and running promotions is amazing (even when I got a 1 star review!) but now the promotion is over I am feeling a little flat.  I get verbal feedback that people are really enjoying the stories but reviews are so important to balance out any rogue 1 stars!  Now the promotion has finished I am sure downloads will continue however watching the word spread about a promotion is a true credit to social networking and I salute those hard working writers out there that give up so much of their time to help others.

There are many that say social networking doesn't sell books but I am inclined to disagree.  For one thing I know for a fact that I have reached a larger audience already than if I hadn't bothered using social networking; the number of downloads support this.  New books on Amazon aren't as easy to come across as you'd think so you need the reviews and for people to click 'like' on your book for it to be more visible.  Obviously increased sales are very important too!

I am followed on Twitter by teenage girls and young people from different countries and that in itself is proof that I am starting to reach the correct audience for my stories.  As people continue to talk about Anastasia then I will no doubt get more young people following Anastasia through me and hopefully it will encourage more young people to read more.  This is what it is important to me - encouraging young people to read more and firing their imagination, maybe even the first spark of a dream to become a writer themselves.

So onto the bit that causes major arguments among writers: should you 'sell' your book for free?  It is all very well to say NOOOO don't do it because you are encouraging the trend for readers to simply wait to see what books are free.  However, if I was fortunate enough to be supported by an agent and publisher then a lot of the marketing is done by them.  They get your book 'out there'.  Independently published authors, with no agent, publisher, etc. have to do all the work themselves and I believe allowing people to sample your work for free may encourage the reader to read other books of yours and recommend to their friends, etc.

Giving away books for free is not a new thing bred from t'internet.  Maybe traditionalist writers have forgotten the numbers of books that were given away with magazines, newspapers, and other press.  Some books were offered a chapter at a time inside the publications too so the readership could follow the story with each edition of their newspaper, magazine, etc.  This is to encourage more people to read the author's books and recommend to people they know while making sure as many people as possible get to hear about this fantastic author and his/her work.  What is happening now is an up to date version of that method of marketing at least that is how I see it.

Some genres are so saturated that it is necessary to stand out from the crowd to be noticed.  I often feel like a five year old trying to jump up to see over the heads of those that have been around longer than I have.  But the good thing is I have plenty of time to grow taller and hopefully stand out from the crowd in the future.

Until then I will continue to work hard and may well run more free promotions at some point because I like knowing that someone new may have happened across Anastasia and that thought makes me very happy.  

So please continue to read as many books as you can by independent authors - I am discovering some fantastic authors.  If you love a book you read for free then please buy more.  You will be helping to make someone's dream come true.

The journey has begun...